All posts by chris.vandersluis

Semiconductor company AMD and HMS collaborate on TimeControl Case Study

We are very excited to kick off blog posts for the new year with something we’ve been working on for some months.  In the summer of 2021, AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and HMS started working on a case study to showcase how the world renowned semiconductor company has deployed TimeControl to its employees around the world.  That case study is now complete and you can read it here.

Our thanks to the TimeControl deployment team at AMD for their partnership as well as all the AMD staff who interact with TimeControl every day.

You can read or download the story here:

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year

The holiday season is upon us here at HMS Software and we would like to takes this opportunity to wish all our clients, colleagues, partners and business contacts a safe and very happy holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year.

We look forward to working with you all in 2022.

We will be closing at noon on Friday, December 24th.  Our office hours for the rest of the holiday season are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) as follows:

  • Friday, Dec 24: Closed at noon
  • Monday, Dec 27: Closed for Christmas
  • Tuesday, Dec 28: Closed for Boxing Day
  • Wednesday, Dec 29: Open
  • Thursday, Dec 30: Open
  • Friday, Dec 31, Closed at noon
  • Monday, Jan 3: Closed
  • Tuesday, Jan 4: Closed
  • Wednesday: Jan 5: Open and our regular schedule restarts

TimeControl and the Apache Log4j zero-day vulnerability

We have had numerous calls from clients today regarding the “Apache Log4j zero-day vulnerability”.  We’re happy to inform you that this security issue does not affect any of our TimeControl environments.  This includes our SaaS TimeControl Online, and any TimeControl or TimeControl Industrial on-premise installations.

For more information on the Apache Log4j zero-day vulnerability, go to:


TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial 8.2 on-premise, now available!

We’re very excited to announce the launch of TimeControl 8.2. Over the next few weeks, you’re going to see a number of different announcements about product releases. This first is to announce the release of the TimeControl 8.2 upgrade for on-premise installations. For clients of TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial with current support agreements, this new version can be downloaded from the Client upgrade area at In the next few weeks we will be updating TimeControl Online and as part of the TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial Online upgrade, our subscription service of TimeControl in the cloud. As part of the TimeControl Online 8.2 upgrade we will also be announcing the availability of TimeControl Project, a new premium version of TimeControl.

This version has significant and enhanced features for both Online and On-premise TimeControl clients. Here is more detail on some of what’s new:

Enhanced Timesheet Entry

We’ve enhanced the way timesheets are created to allow the creation of multiple timesheets at the same time. We also have now included a multiple new line entry to allow multiples lines to be added at once. Also within the timesheet, we allow a single click line-item copy. When copying timesheets, we now allow start/stop values to be copied.

Enhanced Crew Timesheets

In TimeControl Industrial, we’ve made a number of enhancements. The Crew Timesheets now takes into account TimeRequests and adds the appropriate lines right into the Crew Timesheet. We’ve also enhanced the multi-line function to allow multiple projects and charges to be added to multiple crew members at once.

Missing Crew Timesheet Notification

Also in TimeControl Industrial, we’ve added a new function for Missing Crew Timesheets that we expect to be just as popular as the individual Missing Timesheet Notification is.

And much more…

Enhanced Integration with Oracle Primavera, Reporting, Assignments, TimeRequests, Extended Rates, Filter visibility, performance and other usability enhancements across the application.

For a more complete list of new and enhanced features in this version, please visit,

If you are a TimeControl or TimeControl Industrial on premise client with a current support and maintenance agreement, you can download the new version at no additional charge at: We will notify TimeControl Online subscribers about their update and their access to the new TimeControl Project in the coming weeks. TimeControl Online will be updated automatically.

Timesheet approvals can matter… a lot!

When looking at a timesheet used for a single purpose such as time and attendance, then timesheet approvals are straightforward.  Who is responsible for this employee’s attendance?  Were they working?  Were they on vacation or sick leave?  Ok, approved!

With remote work now much more common, there are more questions for time and attendance that can make approvals a bit more complex but the process is the same.  Approvals for one purpose timesheets is essentially a one-dimensional matrix.

But, how do you handle approvals for a timesheet that was deployed for multiple purposes?  That can be more complex.  When you have a multi-purpose timesheet like TimeControl, it turns out that everyone would like a seat at the approvals table.  The more purposes in use for the same timesheet data, the more dimensions to the timesheet approval matrix.

Let’s imagine a couple of scenarios

Timesheets used for Payroll plus Project Management updates

This was the first two-dimensional matrix that we ever confronted with TimeControl.  Project Managers needed to approve work before it is accepted into the project management system.  That might include hours of course but also non-labor resource usage, estimates to complete a task or indications that a task is done.  A project manager might need updates weekly or even more frequently if in an industrial environment.

The Payroll Department isn’t interested in what was done at all. They need to know if the employee was working or not and if not, whether that was part of an entitlement like vacation or sick leave time or if it was an unpaid absence.  The updates to Payroll might only need to happen every other week or twice a month or on some other schedule.

TimeControl’s approval design accommodates this perfectly with the overall timesheet approval happening at the organizational level with whoever is responsible for that employee’s attendance and then, once the timesheet totals are settled, at a line-by-line level for the project manager.  It’s part of the Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™ which we created in the 1990s.

Timesheets used for Project Management updates, Billing and Capitalization

Ok, let’s take something with three dimensions.  Now we still need projects to be updated and we still need project managers to look at things line by line but we need other line-by-line approvals.   Here the total amount for the timesheet could be locked in by an organizational approver or automatically as part of TimeControl Workflow.  Then project managers would approve items line-by-line in the Project Manager Validation screen in TimeControl.

A billing manager could see something very similar in the Line Item Approval screen and approve or reject lines for invoicing from there.  Then an automated transfer from TimeControl to Invoicing would include only those items marked as approved to invoice.

A similar exercise could be done by Finance for use in Capitalizing some work.  Depending on the situation, some work could be invoiced and still capitalized.  Some work might not be invoiced and still be capitalizable.  The numbers are important particularly for Sarbanes-Oxley compliant firms as the numbers are auditable so having a trace of who approved these timesheet hours for Capitalization is important.

Timesheets used for Human Resources plus R&D tax credits

Let’s take a look at a different two-dimensional approval process.  Here the HR department really needs to see who took time off and whether that time was an approved absence, whether that was part of an entitlement like vacation or sick leave that needs to be reflected in the bank of vacation or sick leave for that employee and what balance is left for those banks for the employee in the future.  Here an organizational person who is responsible for the employee’s attendance and approved absences will review the timesheet and sign off on the totals.  This process could be sped up using TimeControl’s Workflow functionality to automatically approve timesheet totals under certain conditions.  For example, if the timesheet already has the expected total of 40 hours and there are no exceptions like sick leave or time off then the timesheet totals could get automatic approval right away.  That leaves only the timesheets with exceptions to be reviewed.

Tasks eligible for R&D credits have to be approved line-by-line so that can be done in TimeControl’s Line-Item-Approval function.  The accepted tasks end up in the R&D tax return for credits and rejected tasks are not considered for this purpose.  This is usually distinct from project approvals or billing approvals as someone in Finance will have to be responsible for this portion of the tax return.

TimeControl’s remarkable approval functionality has been tested in countless scenarios and is so flexible that even if additional dimensions to the approval challenge arrive later, you can add these onto the process without having to restart.

TimeControl technical staff are experienced not just in TimeControl’s functionality but also in how to create a working process for different elements of the organization at the same time.  That kind of skill and experience isn’t as common as you might think.

You can find out more about TimeControl’s approval functionality at On that page you’ll find a number of different resources including the white paper “Creating your Approval Process in TimeControl” which covers more elements of the timesheet approval challenge.

TimeControl Industrial Extended Rates resolves numerous business costing situations

Extended Rates in TimeControl Industrial and TimeControl Industrial Online are designed for many different business challenges including hazard premiums, extra pay for different shifts, variance between regular, overtime and double-time and so much more.

TimeControl’s rate structure is so extensive that we can’t cover it all here.  In fact, there are several resources worth looking for on the website including the white paper “Creating your Rate structure” on the White Paper page at:

For today’s conversation, let’s look at just one powerful aspect of the TimeControl Rate architecture, the Extended Rates functionality of TimeControl Industrial and TimeControl Industrial Online.

Extended Rates works a bit differently than a normal rate table.  In the case of Extended Rates, TimeControl will try to match fields that have been filled out on the Crew Timesheet or regular timesheet with fields that are in the Extended Rates table.  Imagine for a moment that you have different rates for different projects and different rates within each project for different roles.  Then imagine that there are premiums for working on the day shift vs. the night shift and additional premiums based on location and the weather conditions for outdoor work.

Whew!  That’s a lot to take into account.  Let’s add some complexity to the challenge in saying that some of these premiums affect what we charge the client.  Some don’t. Some of these premiums affect what we pay the employee.  Some don’t.

TimeControl Extended Rates is ready to handle all those challenges.

Once you’ve designed your extended rates structure, setting it up is quite straightforward.  On the System Preferences page, in the TCi Settings tab, you map the timesheet field name to the Extended Labor Rates field name so that TimeControl knows how to find the right record.

Then in the Extended Rates table, you set up what might be a very long list of field combinations and their associated value.  These tables are often set up externally using something like Excel and then imported into TimeControl.

In the timesheet, user-defined fields are created to allow the entries for the values in question.  The values can be validated against acceptable values or be tied to a drop-down list to avoid typos.

Here’s an example based on the fields we set above.

Project Rate Role Shift Location Conditions Internal
External Price Average Project
Polar Regular Engineer Day NYC Dry $40.00 $65.00 $50.00
Polar Overtime Engineer Day NYC Dry $60.00 $80.00 $75.00
Polar Double Engineer Day NYC Dry $80.00 $80.00 $75.00
Polar Regular Engineer Night NYC Dry $50.00 $75.00 $60.00
Polar Overtime Engineer Day NYC Dry $75.00 $90.00 $75.00
Polar Double Engineer Day NYC Dry $100.00 $100.00 $75.00
Polar Regular Engineer Day NYC Storms $50.00 $65.00 $50.00
Polar Overtime Engineer Day NYC Storms $70.00 $80.00 $75.00
Polar Double Engineer Day NYC Dry $100.00 $100.00 $75.00
Polar Regular Engineer Night MIA Storms $60.00 $75.00 $60.00
Polar Overtime Engineer Day MIA Storms $85.00 $90.00 $75.00

As you can see, there are premiums set up for all these different options and for each line there are 3 values for Internal Cost, External Price and Average Project cost.  You can have up to 9 different values for each line.  That’s a lot.  Think of it as a 9-dimensional matrix of values per timesheet line.

We’re only showing a portion of what would be a very long list of possible answers.

As of TimeControl 8.2, you’ll be able to simplify the design of this table with the use of null-values.  This allows you to leave a cell blank and TimeControl will assume that any value for that cell is then a match.  For example, let’s say the list above is the same for all projects, not just the Polar project.  In that case, leave the Project field blank and TimeControl will match the rest of the conditions without worry over the project being selected.  This should make creating Extended Rates table a good deal easier in the future.

Matching up the extended rates to the timesheets doesn’t require any effort.  On the timesheet, the employee or for a Crew, the supervisor, enters in the values for the entire crew or each person based on what’s the situation is.  TimeControl takes care of the rest.

There is a similar structure for Materials as these too can have different values either for cost or for billing for different circumstances.

To find out more about rates, consulting the TimeControl Reference Guide or see the white paper “Creating your Rate structure” on the White Paper page at:

Moving Data in and out of TimeControl Online is a snap

TimeControl is available both for installation on premise and for subscription in the cloud.  We often get questions about integrating data from clients who are considering moving from an on premise environment to our TimeControl Online service.  There’s a few things in this area that are important to know:

Imports and Exports

One of the easiest and most popular ways to move data between TimeControl and other corporate systems is to use the TimeControl import and export links.  This functionality has been enhanced numerous times over the years and it works just as well in an on premise installation as in the cloud.  TimeControl can consume a file for import (such as updated employees from new hires) on demand at any time.  The file can be in Excel or CSV formats and you can use a pre-existing template to move the data in from your PC or wherever you access it at any time.  If you want to schedule such imports, you can have the file be consumed directly from the TimeControl server.  If you are on premise, this could possibly be in a shared network directory.  If you are on premise or in the cloud, you can use encrypted secure FTP transfer protocols to locate the file and import it then send an email announcing if the file was imported successfully or if intervention is needed.

The same logic applies to data you wish to take from TimeControl and send elsewhere such as project invoicing details.  You can have an export on demand at any time and save the data to your PC or anywhere you have access.  You can also schedule the export to occur overnight or any kind of regular basis and if you are using TimeControl on premise, that might be a shared network location.  If you are using the TimeControl Online service in the cloud, you could use encrypted secure FTP to transfer it to the FTP location of your choosing.  This code is identical in both TimeControl Online and TimeControl on premise.

Links to Project Management

If you are using one of the many TimeControl links with popular project management systems, then you’ll find that most of these links work as they always did regardless of whether you are using TimeControl on premise or TimeControl Online.  Links between TimeControl and a client-based project management system like Microsoft Project for the Desktop or Primavera Professional require an on-demand transfer because the project file you are interacting with is always at the project manager’s disposal.  Their authentication into Microsoft Project or Primavera Professional has the link become active and data can be sent back and forth.  In the case of Primavera Professional that means using a database to database link.  In the case of Microsoft Project, it means going through the Microsoft Project desktop license to move the data.


If you are using the TimeControl Online service in the cloud, then there are several links where you have to choose the appropriate link to make sure that scheduled interfaces work properly.  For a link between TimeControl and Project Server, you’ll need to use the Project Server link that goes through the Project Server web service.  For a link between TimeControl Online Oracle Primavera’s EPPM, you have the choice of using a direct database-to-database link but that won’t be appropriate for most clients without making very specific security changes on your Primavera’s database server.  The best link to use there will be the Web Services link that uses Primavera’s web service to move data in and out of the system.

Links via API

TimeControl’s ultimate integration is its bi-directional full service RESTful API.  This programmable interface allows direct access to push data into TimeControl or pull data out for almost every table in the system.  The API makes sure that requests through it won’t violate TimeControl’s referential integrity or any of the other database-based or configuration based rules but the API’s power is extensive.  Not every client wants to put in the effort to write integration at the API level.  Those that don’t are already going to be happy with scheduled imports and exports.  Those who need to go further will appreciate how extensively the API has been designed.

Of course HMS is also ready to help create integrations by using combinations of these techniques as well as others.  Feel free to contact us at if we can be of any help.

TimeControl and your email are good friends

Whether you are using TimeControl Online in the cloud, or TimeControl on premise, email functionality can play an important part in making your TimeControl as effective as possible.  Let’s take a look at a couple of elements of TimeControl that you might not have considered:

Missing Timesheet Notification  and the new Missing Crew Timesheet Notification

One of the most popular requests for new clients of TimeControl is having TimeControl send an automated notification for any timesheets that are missing or overdue.  This functionality has now been extended to Crew Timesheets also.  It does a lot more than just send an email.  You can configure numerous scheduled emails, each with a different message and define if this will go to everyone who’s timesheet is absent or send it even if the timesheet is created but has no hours or even if the timesheet is complete but hasn’t been approved yet.  This makes for some remarkable configurations that help reduce absent timesheets and the time spent chasing them and at the same time helps to increase data quality by making sure people are doing their timesheets when expected.  From an Administration standpoint, it means ensuring that all the data is in before exports or reports are completed.  That can be a big deal!

Notice when releasing a timesheet for approval or rejecting it

When a user releases their timesheet, they get an option to send an email to their supervisor advising them the timesheet is complete.  That’s probably not so popular when the timesheet is first done but it’s hugely popular when a timesheet has been rejected and now is being resubmitted.  Going in the other direction, if a timesheet is rejected, the supervisor has an option to send an email to the user advising them that the timesheet is back in draft mode in their control and how to go about fixing it.  Without that email notification and the associated TimeControl notification function, users wouldn’t be able to easily determine if their timesheet is complete or back in their inbox.

TimeControl Workflow notification or request to intervene

If you TimeControl Workflow, you already know how powerful it is.  The Workflow engine looks at timesheets whenever they change hands and evaluates them for any element that can be found in the data.  It’s popular for changing the approval flow based on whether there’s overtime or excessive unbillable time.  It can also be used when this timesheet will push the actual expenditures on a project beyond their budget and if it does, it can email whoever you choose.  The project manager might be a good selection there.  This can help give early warnings to project and resource managers about a potential problem in the project before it gets too significant, allowing them to intervene if necessary.

Administrator Notices on events within TimeControl

TimeControl has numerous schedulable functions that can run in the background including imports, exports, links in or out with project management systems, timesheet posting, automated reports and more.  For each scheduled event, an administrator can be notified automatically by TimeControl when the event runs and if it is successful or not.  This is a big deal when something doesn’t go as expected in overnight processing and intervention is needed.

TimeRequest Approved vacation time

When a TimeRequest is sent or rejected, just like the timesheet, the user can opt to send an email advising the recipient that their attention is needed.  But, when a TimeRequest is approved, TimeControl also allows the supervisor to attach a calendar event to the email so the person taking vacation can just click on the file and add it to their calendar in programs like Google Calendars and Outlook.

Line Item Approval notification

TimeControl’s approval architecture is too long to explain here (for more information on it, see the white paper Creating your Approvals Process in TimeControl on the White Papers area of our website at:  Let’s talk about just one function in the approvals area though and that’s the Line Item Approval.  This function allows approval or rejection of any line item in a timesheet to which a project manager or account manager has access.  Then, once rejected, TimeControl can optionally send emails to any users who’s timesheets were affected so they can make adjustments as needed.

Scheduled reports via Email

TimeControl’s reporting has been one of its strengths since the very first version back in 1994.  All TimeControl reports can be presented as a printable view but they can also be saved as PDF, Excel, HTML or a range of other formats.  If you elect to use Scheduled Reports, you can send a report by email directly to anyone who might need it.  Since reports can be associated to filters, this can be a powerful way to create exception reports.  An executive might only receive the exception report for example if some threshold had been exceeded.  Once it’s configured, that all happens behind the scenes.  Oh, and if the report is so large it won’t fit in an email, TimeControl will encrypt it and just send a link to the file in the email.  What could be better than that?

Alternate Email notifications

Sometimes we can have an alternate user be responsible for emails or we can have a situation where one person who is in the approval release path for a user will do most of the entry and should receive all of the email.  No worries.  TimeControl allows you to select that the alternate user or anyone along the approval path is the person to receive emails.

No matter what elements of TimeControl’s email functionality you take advantage of, it’s all designed to make the organization more efficient.

TimeControl Online turns 10 years old!

We are very proud to announce the 10th anniversary of our TimeControl Online Software as a Service.  TimeControl Online is the subscription based version of TimeControl in the Cloud.  We first launched TimeControl Online in August 2011.

For those of you who’ve worked with TimeControl throughout that time, you’ll know that the new Online service coincided with the release of the TimeControl API and the free TimeControl Mobile App.  Both of these aspects of TimeControl were critical to our ability to launch TimeControl as an  online subscription service without losing any capabilities that on-premise clients enjoy.

TimeControl Online has enjoyed a better than 99.9% up-time since it’s release 10 years ago.  The architecture is built around the Amazon AWS EC2 environment which helps with stability and the ability to scale.

Since the first release of TimeControl Online we’ve also introduced Data Location options for clients with data location compliance obligations with data centers now in the US, France, Canada and the UK.

TimeControl Online and TimeControl on-premise both have identical software source code to ensure that whether clients choose to go on premise or in the cloud, the functionality is the same.

For more information on the 10th Anniversary of TimeControl Online, see our press release at:

The many links between TimeControl and Microsoft Office 365 including Excel

We often don’t talk about all the ways TimeControl can touch Microsoft technology because there are so many and every organization might be different in how it wants to leverage Microsoft’s technology with their centralized timesheet system.

TimeControl has a pre-defined link to the Microsoft Project products including Project on the Desktop, Project Server, Project Online and Project for the Web.  TimeControl can be displayed inside a Teams tab.  TimeControl can be displayed within SharePoint or even link directly with SharePoint lists, pulling task information from a task list and even pushing back actuals.  TimeControl reports can be saved in Word read-able format orin images for consumption by PowerPoint.

But let’s just focus for a moment on Excel.

Whether you are thinking of Excel on your Desktop or Excel in Office 365, TimeControl has numerous ways to integrate that technology.  Here are just a few:

Importing and Exporting data between TimeControl and Office 365 Excel

TimeControl includes complete support for transferring data to and from Excel files.  If you maintain some data now in Excel, then moving that into TimeControl is a matter of moments.  If you use Excel for analysis of data, then sending TimeControl’s source data to Excel is very simple.  You can even schedule exports to Excel or imports from Excel to happen automatically on a schedule you define.

Importing legacy timesheets from Excel to TimeControl is already included

TimeControl includes import functionality for timesheet data itself so, if you have an existing timesheet system in Excel you can transfer that data into TimeControl.  Our Excel Solutions Portal even has a template for you to download and use so you don’t have to create it yourself.

Integrating Excel Services dashboards into TimeControl

Some people like using Excel’s server-based charting capabilities to create analysis of timesheet or project management data.  TimeControl supports displaying Excel views in the dashboard.  Need an Excel pivot report in your TimeControl dashboard?  No problem. Need an Excel traffic light on the TimeControl dashboard?  No problem.

Displaying TimeControl Reports in Excel

Every TimeControl report including those created in our TimeControl Report Designer or with the TimeControl Drill Down Analyzer can be saved as Excel files so you can do more extensive analysis and reporting in the tools you are familiar with.

Migrating from Excel to TimeControl or TimeControl Online is so simple

When new TimeControl systems are established, they are almost always provisioned for the first time from Excel files.  Even if you are not using an Excel timesheet, Excel is an easy tool for bringing data into one place, manipulating if need be then uploading it into the controlled environment of TimeControl.

For more information on linking to Excel or Microsoft Office Excel 365 or migrating from an  Excel-based timesheet system see our TimeControl/Excel Solutions Portal or speak to one of our TimeControl experts at HMS Software at